The Children of
Children Keep Coming:
An Epic GriotSong
by Russell L. Goings
From her seat on the bus,
Rosa Parks waves at
The children of children crossing
Selma's bridge and instructs:
Face the hoods and robes.
Face the burning crosses.
Face the hangman's noose.
Face the biting dogs.
Face the madness of Jim Crow.
Face those who ride at night.
Face the shameless who inflame.
The Children of
Children Keep Coming
by Russell L. Goings
Karen Hunter Publishing
Pocket Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster
Cover Art and Illustrations:
Library of Congress Control Number: 2008022078
To Purchase Online
fast-paced book of poetry by Russell L. Goings is a griotsong.
A griot is a West African storyteller, a musician, a poet who,
holding in mind the history of a family or village, chronicles the
past by means of oral tradition, sometimes in song. Because
the ability to hold and relay the common narrative of a group of
people is considered a spiritual gift and responsibility, the griot
is akin to a bard, an epic poet.
The griotsong that unfolds in the book, The Children of Children
Keep Coming, is the painful and inspirational story of the
African American experience in the United States, beginning with the
flight of the enslaved, and culminating with a gathering at the table of
larger than life leaders of African American history who take on
Around the great table,
I see Calli of the valley, linking her
Arms with the children of children
Who link their arms
With the giants and their families:
Among the giants present at this table are Harriet Tubman, Sojourner
Truth, John Brown, Nat Turner, DuBois, Dr. King, Malcom X, Sugar Ray
Robinson, Adam Clayton Powell, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin,
Gwendolyn Brooks, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, the list is pages
long. The personal struggles of many of these giants are
relayed, in chronological order inside the griotsong, which is
divided into three parts. 1) Taking the Train to Freedom, 2)
Jubilee, 3) Celebration of Survival.
The children of children are African American descendents who,
despite hardship, slavery, and murder, just keep on coming, keep on
persevering, moving from the past to the present. There is a
foreword motion in this epic poem, an inevitability, a pace that
propels the reader forward to the next scene in African American
history, the next struggle, the next heroic act.
I hear the children of children.
their drums: rap-rap-rap-rap-rap.
their feet: tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.
Their hands: clap-clap-clap-clap-clap.
The griot relating this tale, Russell Goings, assumes the persona
and voice of the major figures in the African American story.
For example, Frederick Douglass speaks:
We have a new nation,
A united nation,
A healing nation,
a multiracial nation.
Adam Clayton Powell speaks:
Don't hold on to empty promises,
Like the myth of forty acres and a mule.
Hold onto trust, its thrust goes
Deeper, broader, straighter, higher.
The ability to relate a griotsong is given to only a few.
In this sense, the role of the griot is much like the combined role
of the epic poet Homer and the storyteller Ion, whose profession it
was to recite Homer.
The Greek philosopher, Plato, wrote about the phenomenon of epic
poetry, "the epic poets, all the good ones, have their excellence,
not from art, but are inspired, possessed, and thus they utter all
these admirable poems......A poet is a light and winged thing, and
holy, and never able to compose until he has become inspired, and is
beside himself, and reason is no longer in him."
The Children of Children Keep Coming is relentless in its
forward thrust, and inspirational in its steadfast turning toward
God for inspiration and assistance. As a result, the story of the
children of children does not stop at the end of this book. The pace
does not stop, it does not slow, implying that future generations of
African Americans will continue forward, without ceasing.
This book is both history and poetry. It belongs on the shelf
of every public library and every school library, (the glossary of
Afro-American historical figures and terms is extremely important).
It belongs in the homes of African Americans who wish to pass down
their traditional history, on the shelves of poets and leaders, and
in the hands of common folk who care to sit a while and listen to
the song of a gifted griot.
Mary Ann Sullivan
The Tower Journal